Crosby confident heading into Week 1 after strong finish to preseason

Aug. 29, 2013

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Green Bay Packers kicker Mason Crosby (2) kicks off during the first half Thursday against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. / AP


KANSAS CITY, MO. — Mason Crosby did everything that was required Thursday to lock down the Green Bay Packers’ kicking job.

Off the field, it came to light earlier in the day that the seventh-year kicker accepted a pay cut from $2.4 million to $800,000 for the 2013 season as part of a recent contract restructuring, a source with access to NFL salary information confirmed.

When light turned to night, Crosby came through with a pair of well-hit field goals from 48 and 45 yards in the first half of Thursday night’s 30-8 to the Kansas City Chiefs to finish a perfect 6-for-6 during the preseason.

The catch to his reworked deal is Crosby can make up some or all of the $1.6 million he gave up if he’s on the Packers’ roster for 10 games and makes 85 percent of his field-goal attempts.

Crosby struggled occasionally in camp — most notably a 3-for-8 showing at the team’s Family Night scrimmage — but buckled down during the final two weeks to beat out first-year kickers Giorgio Tavecchio and Zach Ramirez.

“Coach (Mike) McCarthy’s team, we’re talking about playing with an edge,” Crosby said. “I really think, especially this last week, I kind of felt that. I took over the job and made sure it was mine and that I kicked with a little bit of an edge you would say.”

The restructuring doesn’t affect the other two years remaining on the five-year, $14.75 million extension he agreed to shortly after the lockout ended in 2011, but pays Crosby separate $400,000 bonuses if he’s on the Packers’ roster for the fifth and 10th games of the season.

He also can receive bonuses for hitting a given percentage of his field-goal attempts. If he makes 75 percent, he’ll receive $200,000. If he makes 80 percent, $400,000, and if he makes 85 percent, like he did in 2011, he’ll make $800,000.

The pay cut comes after Crosby made only 63.6 percent of his attempts last season and followed up with an up-and-down training camp that included the 3-for-8 performance during the intra-squad scrimmage and three straight misses from mid-range during a short kicking period two weeks ago.

However, after the Packers signed a third kicker last weekend, Crosby responded by making 24 of 25 kicks.

“I was happy hitting some long field goals and having a lot of attempts in practice,” Crosby said. “Just seeing a lot of wide reps was really a positive thing. I feel good about it and am thankful for it … and I feel really confident going into the season because of it.”

Since Family Night, Crosby has converted 61 of 68 field-goal attempts (89.7 percent) in practice and preseason games. For all of camp, he’s made 73 of 87 field goals (83.9 percent).

The rest of Crosby's contract was not changed. He’s scheduled to make $2.65 million in base salary next season plus a $150,000 workout bonus. In 2015, his base salary is $2.8 million plus a $150,000 workout bonus.

All things considered, Crosby appears to be in the Packers’ plans for 2013.

“I want to be a Packer. Whenever we started discussing it, it was whatever we needed to do to be on this team,” Crosby said. “Obviously, my kicking is what ultimately gets me on this team. How it’s structured, it feels good. I lowered my base salary, obviously, but I have the ability to get all the way back to what the original number was. Everything is right in front of me, I just have to go out and take care of my business and nothing really changes.”

While Crosby held onto his job for the time being, punter Tim Masthay put the bookend on a spectacular training camp with nine punts on Thursday. The 26-year-old punter finished the preseason with 28 punts, a 45.9 average, 37 net and seven touchbacks.

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If you've ever answered "Who has the ball?" with "It's halftime," you might recognize The Airhead. Check out the characters in our cartoon gallery of oddball fans.

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